The Bricks of Cranbrook: Humble Material, Monumental Design

Monday, October 25th, 2021 | 11:00am
Center Virtual Lecture
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

LIVE VIRTUAL LECTURE

Monday, October 25, 2021 | 11:00am—12:00pm ET

$20 per Viewer
Lecture will be Password-Protected
Advance Registration is Required

Free for Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cranbrook Schools Students
(register by sending an email from your Cranbrook email address to center@cranbrook.edu)

Presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Lecturer:
Kevin Adkisson, Curator, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

ABOUT THE LECTURE

Bricks are all around our built environment, and the ubiquity of brick buildings mask the humble material’s fascinating history and rich visual potential. Through the simple geometry of the rectangular brick, an endless array of creative structures and arresting designs can be created.

Cranbrook’s principal architect, Eliel Saarinen, was a master of brick design. His campus structures from the 1920s through the 1940s are almost universally built of load-bearing brick walls. Using a variety of colors, sizes, manufacturing techniques, and bonds (how bricks are stacked together), Saarinen’s Cranbrook is a showcase of brick brilliance. Later architects, like Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, extended the tradition of brick excellence at Cranbrook into the late 20th century.

In this lecture, Kevin Adkisson will introduce a brief history of bricks, and discuss the material’s manufacture and methods of bricklaying. The process of making a brick—procuring the clay, molding it into a form, and drying and firing the bricks—gives the material its visual and structural qualities. Once manufactured, the architect’s vision and the mason’s skill transform individual bricks into a building.

The focus of the talk will be on the multitude of creative and unique ways bricks have been used on Cranbrook’s campus. From brickyards in the Netherlands, Ohio, and Nebraska, an enormous variety of bricks were made-to-order for Cranbrook. Once the bricks were on site, Norwegian and American bricklayers executed with precision the careful patterns and structural acrobatics of the architects’ designs. Ultimately, the brick serves as the unit from which all of Cranbrook’s renowned architecture is composed.

The Uncovering Cranbrook Lecture Series give audiences an inside look at the many stories of Cranbrook from the staff of the Center for Collections and Research. The series highlights the people and personalities who helped shape our community and form the rich legacy of art, architecture, science, and education that define Cranbrook.

PHOTO CREDIT (FROM TOP TO BOTTOM):

Brick and tile crane detail, Administration Building, Cranbrook Academy of Art. Photographer Kevin Adkisson. Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.

Archway looking toward Sunglitter (Carl Milles, 1918), Arts and Crafts Courtyard, Cranbrook Academy of Art. Photographer James Haefner. Courtesy of Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.

Gable, Page Hall Dormitory, Cranbrook Campus, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School. Photographer Kevin Adkisson, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.

Exterior brick detail, Williams Natatorium, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School. Photographer Kevin Adkisson, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.